Inquiry delays trial of 19 heist suspects

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

The Mdantsane magistrates' court yesterday postponed the trial date of 19 men suspected to be responsible for a spate of cash heists to July 23.

Prosecutor Linda Jekwa said the case was postponed for further investigation and all the suspects were remanded in custody.

During the group's appearance there was a heavy police presence at the court.

The suspects remained calm during their appearance and shared jokes with their friends and relatives.

Their fun was short-lived because the police ordered their relatives - who had travelled from as far afield as Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal - to leave the courtroom shortly after the postponement.

But the relatives complained and the court granted them permission to give the suspects parcels.

The suspects were arrested in February during an operation by the organised crime unit and other police units.

They were arrested at a disused factory in East London. Police seized five R5 rifles, two AK47s, four fully loaded rifle magazines, 164 spare rounds of ammunition, 250 pistol rounds, two bullet-proof vests, police car numberplates, three balaclavas, eight pistols, a tear gas canister, a blue police lamp, 2,5 litres of liquid chlorine, 20 cellphones and 16 identity documents at the factory.

Six vehicles including a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, an Audi A4 sedan, two Isuzu panel vans and a Telkom van were also recovered.

The suspects, from various provinces such as Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, are facing charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, possession of unlicensed firearms and possession of stolen vehicles.